I use a combination of praise, love, treats, play, retrieving, running around jumping, tag and whatever else may be positive to my dogs over the course of all my training. Taking out treats and saying they are inappropiate for training to me is the same as taking out any other type of reward. They can live without out it but they enjoy it when they get it too. I know I enjoy a good treat myself sometimes. Frankly I have been working on the south beach diet for a couple of months and a life without cookies is certainly less of a quality life despite all the love I have from my family
I still would love a good peanut butter cookie! But I am living without and haven't gone into depression or anything yet
If I ever had an issue with one of my GSP's being fat during the first 6 years of their life it would be a first for me...
clicker training uses treats and is based on something that happens in the brain with the link of stimulus/reward. The click in paticular (other non voice-command sounds also work) is proccessed in a different part of the brain than when you give your dog a verbal command. A verbal command has to be "translated" by their brain and takes a little more processing for the dog wheras the click skips the translation and gets a quick response. They have done the research on reponse time and actual research with EEG type equipment and the actual place in the brain ithat is stimulated is different. It makes it easy to mark very particular behaviours that you like and want the dog to do again. It is just a method.It is a starter method even if you always stick with positive methods, because even devout clicker trainers will add a voice command after the initial "link" has been made, then eventually ditch the click as the dog learns. It is basically a different way to help them learn a different language, and I find it useful for complicated body posturing and more fun for the dog, than restraint methods. You do give a lot of treats during the clicker work. And it requires a sort of treat focus that some dog do not have as strongly, but it is just a tool. One method in a sea of thousands of ways to train your dog. A method that works well for getting dogs to understand WHAT you want when you use that combination of sounds that they have to learn to associate with a behavior.
[edit - I should clarify that the "click" is not a command but a "reward marker" It takes the places of "good dog" not of "sit" It marks the behavior that the dog did that deserves the reward and as soon as they hear the "click" they get the reward. Thus that behavior is encouraged specifically. You can still use the clicker with a command and say "sit" and then click when the hind end hit's the floor marking the correct behavior. It is this difference in reponse to the sound of the click verses the sound of "good dog or "okay" or whatever else that has been studied and the human words are routed through a different portion of the brain first.]
I wish my school teachers had been open to new methods, because I did not learn well from the "copy these sentences a zillion times" method. As I watch my children enter school I judge a good teacher by how open they are to working with the kids and finding the ways they learn and the things that best motivate them. It is the teachers that "do what they've always done" or expect grades & nice comments to be enough reward that are mediocre teachers though often nice and friendly. The teachers that are great, mix it up, do class parties, play music make learning games like "wheel of fortune" and "who wants to be a milliona" and just all around keep the kids loving it and finding what makes their brains learn quickly and keep their attention.
We are forunate that we can work with one dog at a time (unlike the poor teachers who are teaching 20-25 children at one time) and change the method to suit each and I value knowing all about all the methods I can becuase invariaby, even with the best of dogs, I will hit a stumbling block that requires me to rethink and train that particular thing differently. It's that exact thing that brought me to clicker training to begin with. I had a particular issue with a dog that would try to shut down when I trained for a certain thing. I needed him to be happy and like it so we tried the clicker training. It worked well, and I have started to use it for other things, but I could never expect to do all my training with it. The dogs just have too much drive, and intelligence and I am not opposed to some non-positive training. If my dog chases the horse and is in danger of being kicked, I am going to use the quickest strongest way to train him not to save him from being hurt. I am not going to spend 4 months working on training a replacement and teaching him to do whatever else instead, because in that 4 months if he gets away and gets kicked in the head our training is over anyway. Same with "here" yes it starts a positive fun thing and stays so for a long while, but there comes a point when I have to say, nope, "here means here even if you don't want to you have to!" but if you do I will still praise you when you get back.